Odes 5, 14 – Ode geniale

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A JANET, Peintre du Roy très-excellent
 
Boy, Janet, à moy tour à tour,
Et ne ressembles au vautour
Qui tousjours tire la charongne.
Tu es un sot : un bon yvrongne
Autant pour une nopce vaut
Qu’un bon guerrier pour un assaut.
 
Car ce n’est moins entre les pots
D’en-hardir par vineux propos
Un homme paresseux à boire,
Que pour gaigner une victoire,
Rendre à la bataille hardy
Un capitaine acouardy.
 
Boy donc, ne fay plus du songeart :
Au vin gist la plus grande part
Du jeu d’amour et de la danse.
L’homme sot qui lave sa panse
D’autre breuvage que du vin
Meurt tousjours de mauvaise fin.
 
A bon droit le ciel a donné
A l’homme qui n’est aviné
Tousjours quelque fortune dure ;
Autrement la mordante cure,
Qui nous cuit l’ame à petit feu,
Ne s’en-va qu’après avoir beu.
 
Après le vin on n’a souci
D’amour ny de la cour aussi,
Ny de procez, ny de la guerre.
Hé ! que celui lâchement erre
Qui, faisant ainsi que Penthé,
Bacchus en ses vers n’a chanté !
 
Boy doncques à moy tour à tour,
Et ne ressembles au vautour
Qui tousjours tire la charongne :
Il vaut mieux voir en peau d’yvrongne
Là bas l’infernal passager,
Que de crever de trop manger.
 
 
 
 
                                                                                               TO JANET, most excellent Painter to the King
 
                                                                                               Drink to me, Janet, turn and turn about
                                                                                               And don’t be like the vulture
                                                                                               Always hogging the carcase.
                                                                                               You are a sot, a real drunkard,
                                                                                               As useful for a wedding
                                                                                               As a good warrior for the attack.
 
                                                                                               For it’s no less of a job, among the cups,
                                                                                               To make with liquid courage
                                                                                               A lazy man bold to drink,
                                                                                               Than it is to win a victory
                                                                                               By sending into a tough battle
                                                                                               A cowardly captain.
 
                                                                                               So drink, don’t be a dreamer.
                                                                                               In wine lives the greatest part
                                                                                               Of the game of love and of dancing.
                                                                                               The drunkard who wets his whistle
                                                                                               With any drink except wine
                                                                                               Comes always to a bad end.
 
                                                                                               Rightly, heaven has always given
                                                                                               To the man who is not a drunkard
                                                                                               Some harsh fortune;
                                                                                               On the other hand, the painful treatment
                                                                                               Which burns our soul with its small fire
                                                                                               Does not go away except after drinking
 
                                                                                               After wine, you have no concern
                                                                                               About love or the court,
                                                                                               Nor trials, nor war.
                                                                                               Ah, how like a coward he errs
                                                                                               Who, doing what Pentheus did,
                                                                                               Has not sung of Bacchus in his songs!
 
                                                                                              So, drink to me turn and turn about
                                                                                               And don’t be like the vulture
                                                                                               Always hogging the carcase:
                                                                                               It’s better to see the infernal boatman
                                                                                               Down there in your drunkard’s guise,
                                                                                               Than to die of eating too much.
 
 
Blanchemain notes that the first version of this Ode, in 1560, began “Bois, Vilain…” (‘Drink, you rogue…’ – unless Vilain is a name?); in 1567 it had changed to “Bois, Janin…” (‘Drink, Johnny…’) which it remained in the 1571 & 1573 editions; and it wasn’t until the 1584 edition that it named Janet. Blanchemain explains his decision to choose the last version thus: “We have kept Janet, as the name is historical”!  Although ‘Janet’ was the nickname of Jehan (Jehannet, Jannet =’Johnny’) Clouet, he had died by 1541. However, his son François who was Ronsard’s contemporary appears to have also gone by the same nickname (bizarrely!), so ‘Janet’ = François (Johnny) Clouet.
 
The reference to Pentheus in the penultimate stanza recalls the “Bacchae” of Euripides, in which Pentheus refuses to honour Dionysus (Bacchus), god of wine, and is consequently driven mad by the god and killed by his followers.
 
 
 
 
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About fattoxxon

Who am I? Lover of all sorts of music - classical, medieval, world (anything from Africa), world-classical (Uzbek & Iraqi magam for instance), and virtually anything that won't be on the music charts... Lover of Ronsard's poetry (obviously) and of sonnets in general. Reader of English, French, Latin & other literature. And who is Fattoxxon? An allusion to an Uzbek singer - pronounce it Patahan, with a very plosive 'P' and a throaty 'h', as in 'khan')

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  1. Pingback: Odes 5:13 – À Simon Nicolas, Secretaire du Roy | Oeuvres de Ronsard

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